Saturday, December 2, 2023

Europe rejects calls from environmentalists about whether it is appropriate to allocate EU funds to ski resorts in Aragon

The European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, which studies citizens’ demands, refused this Thursday to examine whether it is appropriate to finance projects with European recovery funds to create new accesses or unite ski resorts in the Aragonese Pyrenees.

The lawsuit was filed by the five main environmental organizations in Spain (Friends of the Earth, Ecologists in Action, Greenpeace, SEO/BirdLife and WWF) and was rejected with the votes against the European People’s Party, the European Social Democrats and the Liberals and the right-wing extremists of the group Conservatives and reformists, to which Vox belongs.

The Greens and the Left voted to examine this complaint, which warns against the use of 50 million euros of Community funds for projects that “affect sensitive high mountain ecosystems,” said the representative of the complaining NGOs, activist María Gros Breto, in her speech during the Meeting of the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament.

Projects include connecting the Candanchú and Astún ski resorts by a cable car, the construction of a cable car between the municipalities of Benasque and Cerler and the construction of a road that will expand access to the Cerler train station and connect it to Fonchanina. in the Castanesa Valley.

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In their lawsuit, the environmentalists highlighted “particularly because of its environmental impact” another project that wanted to use 26.4 of the planned 50 million euros of European funds to connect the Astún and Formigal stations with a 4-kilometer cable car, although In May the Provincial Council of Huesca decided not to carry it out.

The groups that voted against examining the environmentalist’s complaint argued that given the cancellation of this project, the most controversial of all because it crossed the Canal Roya valley, there was no reason to open the petitioners’ request in the European Parliament to keep. NGO.

In addition, the European Commission representative who spoke at the hearing, Daniel Fernández Gómez, told MEPs that the municipal administration “considers that there is no reason to comply with this request regarding environmental issues”.

However, the Commission also recalled that the provision of European funds takes place in stages, so there could be the possibility of stopping funding if the construction of the infrastructure does not meet the established standards.

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For her part, the MEP for Izquierda Unida, Sira Riego, was “astonished” by this response from the Commission and asked her: “How can you restore a devastated high mountain area when a plan has been launched that will destroy it?”, no matter what Much can be paralyzed by the second payment.”

On the other hand, PP MEP Pablo Arias, whose party heads the current government of Aragon, assured that the regional executive “will not do anything that does not comply with each and every one of the environmental requirements stipulated by law”.

In addition, Arias explained that the Aragonese authorities have already asked that the funds that should have been allocated initially to the most controversial project, the connection of Astún and Formigal through the Canal Roya valley, be reallocated to other initiatives.

Specifically, in their request, which was rejected by the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, the environmental NGOs also called on MEPs to examine ways to integrate this valley of the Canal Roya into the European Natura 2000 network in order to shield it “from future threats”. protect his legal protection.

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The Green Group pointed out the natural value of this area and its MEP Ana Miranda from the BNG warned that “interest-based withdrawal” of those areas from the Natura 2000 network that “correspond to the values ​​that justify their protection” is not possible is acceptable”. .” “.

For his part, PSOE MEP César Luena expressed his “compassion for the defense of the Canal Roya and the protection of nature”, but stressed that the project to unite the ski resorts crossing it “meets all the requirements”.

Citizen MEP Jordi Cañas regretted that this plan was ultimately shelved and, although he described himself as “very pro-land”, he also said that “people must have expectations and options for economic development”.

In her response, the representative of the plaintiff environmental NGOs argued that with climate change, snow will be “a dead deal” that will “fail the valleys of the Pyrenees,” said activist María Gros Breto.

Nation World News Desk
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